APRIL 7, 2014: IN A first for Port Elizabeth, the Market Theatre will host a two-day search for talented theatre groups to perform at the annual Zwakala Theatre Festival later this year.

The acknowledgement of the growth of performing arts in the city and the emergence of diverse theatre groups from Nelson Mandela Bay comes on the back of the 2011 selection of Port Elizabeth-based production The Journey for the same festival and linkages created out of this.

“The journey to perform on national stages like the Market Theatre’s begins with small showcases at grassroots level in places like church halls and community centres together with local-level support from the community,” said the Market Theatre’s Sipho Mwale.

 “We in awe of PE theatre groups’ determination. These outfits have produced work in garages, open spaces, and even in the bush. This is testimony to their commitment – and is the experience of those involved in the production of The Journey directed by Simphiwe Khaya from Motherwell.”

The growth of community-level theatre is burgeoning in Nelson Mandela Bay, in part supported by programmes run by the Opera House linked with the National Arts Council and other theatre companies, but also emerging from the “bottom-up” performance groups who are championing theatre as a form of storey-telling, activism and critical analysis of past and present.

The result is the appearance of quality productions, showcased on various platforms, including the National Arts Festival and the likes of the Market Theatre.

“Our local theatre has been making strides on the national theatrical scene. Recently New Brighton- based theatre group, Keep the Dream, won Best Ensemble and Best Performer in Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre Zabalaza Theatre Festival 2014, for their production Hungry Road directed by Xolani Ngesi ” said Xolisa Ngubelanga, writer and director at Sheleni Theatre Company/Group and performing arts intern at Numb City Productions.

Keep the Dream was auditioned behind closed doors when the Zabalaza team visited Port Elizabeth, but it goes to show the calibre of theatre and talent we have locally.

The Market Theatre auditions will take place on April 18 and 19 at the Little Theatre in the Athenaeum, but the trials have a unique spin in that they are open to the public – and all theatre lovers – to come witness. 

A range of Nelson Mandela Bay theatre groups will showcase their class performances for the public. Five local theatre groups will take part in the showcase with three performances happening on each day, featuring works by Olwethu Mdala, Xolani Ngesi, Lonwabo Xatasi, Ngubelanga and Zukiswa Cakucaku.

“We at the Market Theatre Foundation, the staff, council and especially fieldworkers are humbled to be part of such life changing program,” added Mwale.

The initiative is coordinated by Numb City, The Athenaeum and The Market Theatre and will continue into the future as a tool for growing and profiling local top-notch performance talent.

“This is an amazing opportunity that we will continue to leverage as a platform for PE’s theatre practitioners to showcase their potential and raise the flag for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro,” added Ngubelanga.

Tickets are available at the Athenaeum and at the door for R60 a day, R100 for both days and R300 block bookings a day.

ENDS – 545 words.


For more information call Xolisa Ngubelanga on 041 585 1041/073 274 7379 or email [email protected]